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India’s supply lines buckle as sweeping coronavirus lockdown starts

India’s supply lines buckle as sweeping coronavirus lockdown starts

DPA
New Delhi
India was struggling on Wednesday to keep supply lines of essential commodities moving as large numbers of people stocked up a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown to fight the spread of the new coronavirus.
The government also banned the export of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine that has shown to have some positive effects in tackling the virus and further subsidised food rations available through its public distribution system for three months. Health Ministry data showed a surge of nearly 100 new cases overnight, with the number of positive cases Wednesday at 606.
Forty-three people had recovered and 10 had died.
As supply chain glitches appeared and prices of vegetables rose in the wake of new anti-coronavirus measures, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the government was monitoring the availability of essential commodities in the market. He warned manufacturers and traders against profiteering.
Modi’s announcement on Tuesday night was followed by a rush to grocery stores and pharmacies despite the government saying it would ensure essential supplies are maintained and urging people not to resort to panic buying.
“We have run out of supplies of long-life milk cartons and hand wash soap,” said Boli Shankar Agarwal, a grocery shop owner in Delhi suburb Gurgaon.
In Mumbai, a vegetable vendor told NDTV news channel that she was finding it difficult to source the vegetables as her local wholesale market was closed.
All inter-state borders in India have been closed and passenger services by rail and air stopped. Most states have imposed orders prohibiting gatherings of more than four people.
Amid rising concern over how India’s poor, many of whom are daily wage workers in the informal sector, would be able to weather the 21-day lockdown, the federal government said it would be drastically reducing prices in its food security programme that provides subsidised rations to 800 million people.
Every person would get 7 kilogrammes of rations for the next three months and they would get rice at 2 rupees per kilogramme instead of 37 rupees and wheat at 2 rupees instead of 27 rupees, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javdekar said at a briefing. Several state governments have announced measures to reach food to the poor, among them migrant daily wage workers who now have no work and nor can they return to their villages amid the lockdown.

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